It was never going to be easy remaking a classic and especially if that classic belongs to a decade better known as the golden age of horror. 1981’s The Evil Dead was a phenomenon upon its release, gaining mostly positive reviews and becoming a box office success, it was also, despite being very gory, full of slapstick humour which has certainly contributed to its long-standing cult following.
Evil Dead, directed by Fede Alvarez and produced by both Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, director and star of the original respectively is a blood-soaked gore-fest that doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination. Whilst the characters have changed there is plenty that remains loyal to the original, enough in fact to keep hardcore fans like myself very happy indeed.
The film begins with a flashback that gives viewers some insight into events that unfolded before the main story. A girl is hunted down in the woods, before being captured and taken to a nearby cabin where she is confronted by her father and a witch who claims she is possessed. As the girl pleads for her life the witch demands she be purified and as her father prepares to set his daughter alight, she transforms into a demon. She is then burnt to death. Fast forward to the present day and five friends have arrived at the same cabin in the woods in order to support one of them going cold turkey following a long battle with drug addiction. Shiloh Fernandez of Red Riding Hood fame stars as David, the rogue member of the group who the rest feel rejected by since his move to the city. His sister Mia (Suburgatory and US Shameless star, Jane Levy) has been brought to their family’s cabin in order to get over a severe drug addiction which nearly killed her. Alongside these are David’s girlfriend, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), his best friend Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Nurse, Olivia (Cloverfield’s Jessica Lucas). Inevitably, they discover the infamous ‘Naturon Demonto’ or Book of the Dead and as Eric reads incantations, albeit ones that are warned against, the most horrific of nightmares begins.
Indeed this remains loyal to the original. Granted, the characters are different and the subject matter surrounding why they have gone to the cabin is significantly more serious but some scenes are so similar that if you’ve seen Raimi’s version you’ll see certain things coming a mile off and will have no choice but to hide behind your hands or cry. There’s the infamous rape scene that Mia must endure, just like Cheryl, her counterpart in the original and the deliberate loss of limbs which actually has been taken from The Evil Dead 2, bringing great delight to those who have seen the entire series. It’s touches like this that show Alvarez has without a doubt, done his homework.
The scenes are exceptionally violent but in a world where such films as Saw and Hostel exist we are definitely more immune to them than we have ever been before, as well the constant broadcasting of atrocities occurring everywhere in the world, which we are now made more freely aware of through the media means unfortunately, the scenes in Evil Dead, though horrific aren’t anything we haven’t seen a million times before. A neat little twist in the final moments however sets it apart and ensures there is an epic showdown that nobody saw coming and as the nightmare is seemingly over, we are left wondering, will there be a sequel?
Though Evil Dead isn’t exactly a film that will change your life it is without a doubt one of the best remakes Hollywood has ever done. Alvarez has, like Raimi before him created a perfect combination between horror and comedy without going too overboard but it is unlikely Evil Dead will generate the same status as its predecessor, simply because the public are too numb to this sort of violent content. Hopefully though, it will lead on to a sequel and make major stars of its well deserving director and young cast.
Evil Dead is released this Thursday, 18th April.]]>